Home > Modern Australian, Syd: Darlinghurst, Sydney > Dinner at Universal, Darlinghurst

Dinner at Universal, Darlinghurst

A dear friend, C, has been away and I was dying to catch up with him to hear all about his trip to China and Hong Kong, especially the culinary part of his trip. Universal was one of the places he wanted to try, and I haven’t been to Universal since, believe it or not, my hens which was about 3 years ago! My dear bridesmaid organized dessert at Universal (my hens was a revolving food!) and I came back to have dinner a couple of months later. I have very fond memories of this place, especially the desserts! I can’t remember what I had for dinner but from memory, at the hens, I had the mango tango and it was simply divine! Thanks a million dear bridesmaid, M – it was one fantastic night!

I met C after work at Universal, it was a gorgeous evening, a little on the cool-ish side. We sat outside in the courtyard, and both C and I love the open air outdoor seating. It would be terrible if it was raining though, but thankfully it wasn’t.

If you haven’t been to Universal, the idea is that the dishes are ‘entrée’ size, they start from the lightest (which is top of left hand page) to the heaviest (which is bottom of right hand page). The waiter suggested that each person should order about three dishes, plus dessert, however we both opted for two, plus dessert.

We started with sour dough bread with olive oil. I love fresh bread, crusty exterior and soft and fluffy interior. I mean, who doesn’t love fresh bread?

I started with the hiramasa kingfish tartare, sweet grilled eel, shiso and sesame salad, sushi rice, and dashi jelly. This was wonderfully presented, and wonderfully executed. I love the hiaramsa kingfish tartare and the sweet grilled eel. It certainly has been a long time since I had eel. The shiso and sesame salad was light and refreshing, and really complemented the kingfish tartare and eel. It was a fairly light dish and a great way to start to meal.

C, had the steamed whiting, squid and clam, seared sea scallop, black beans, ginger soy broth – this was a slightly ‘heavier’ entrée. I didn’t have any of this, but I did ask C for his comments and he said ‘All the seafood components were perfectly cooked. Loved the scallops and the broth was sensational! Really bold flavours, extremely tasty.’ Judging by how he demolished this, I think he really enjoyed this dish – he did say that it was probably the dish of the night! (and I didn’t try any?!?!)

For the second course, I opted the sweet and sour pork belly, trotter croquette, roasted parsnip and green peas. As soon as C saw pork belly, he turned to me and said ‘pork belly?’ – he knows me well!

The pork belly was small, a little on the fatty side but was incredibly tender and incredibly succulent. It just melted in your mouth, it was just absolutely superb! The trotter croquette was lightly battered and deep fried, it was mushy, tenderloin-like and eaten with the roasted parsnip and green peas was just to die for! Each mouthful was better than the next. I couldn’t decide which to eat first, the pork belly or the trotter croquette – they were both simply divine. I loved this dish, and could have probably eaten more. For me, this was the highlight of the evening!

C had the slow braised wagyu beef shin and bone marrow vol au vent, chestnut mushroom tempura, spinach. His comments ‘the mushroom tempura on top was beautiful and very crunchy. The pastry wrapping was just as good. The beef and the bone marrow was a lovely combination.’ His only gripe would be the spinach puree, he is not a massive fan of spinach – how can he not?

Dessert – I had high expectations! Unfortunately I was a little disappointed. I ordered the tinkled pink – strawberry yogurt cream, balsamic strawberries, raspberries and basil. It was more like a cheese cake, however, not as creamy as a cheese cake. It wasn’t moist either, it was rather ordinary.

C had gaytime goes nuts – honeycomb ice cream, caramel parfait, chocolate crunch, salted hazelnut caramel. I had SERIOUD FOOD ENVY! This was outstanding – a tower of serious delicious sweetness! It was sweet, it was chocolate-y, it was salty – all the wonderful flavours combined together – it was just outstanding! I secretly had hoped I ordered this. C loved their take on golden gaytime, ‘lots of flavours with different textures and layers’. It certainly is a WONDERFUL dessert!

Universal was as good as I had remembered it. The two dishes were amazing, the wait staff tentative, and friendly. I think both C and I were happy, content and satisfied, I for one was extremely satisfied with my pork belly dish, it was scrumptiously good. It certainly made up for the ordinary tinkled pink dessert.

It was great catching up with C and hearing all about his culinary experiences in China and Hong Kong. It made me realise how much I am looking forward to my trip! It’s always great catching up with C and I look forward to catching up with you again soon!

C’s rating: 8 / 10.

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10


Republic 2 Courtyard Palmer Street

Darlinghurst 2010

Ph: +61 2 9331 0709

Universal on Urbanspoon

  1. November 24, 2010 at 3:22 am

    My friend told me that this place is sometimes a hit/miss kinda place, but gosh the gaytime dessert looks scrumptious!

    • November 24, 2010 at 3:23 am

      hey 🙂 i think it depends what you order! my dessert was definitely a miss! the gaytime dessert was definitely a winner! the pork was wonderful 🙂

  2. Mel
    November 29, 2010 at 12:28 am

    the vol-au-vent looks yummo! will have to check it out 🙂 can’t believe your hens was 3 years ago…had so much fun organising it too. can’t wait to organise your baby shower next! HAHA

    • November 29, 2010 at 12:33 am

      i know right? where did the time go? LOL it might be a while before you organise my baby shower! hahahahah

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